Though hammocks have been in use for hundreds of years, they’re now taking parks and college campuses everywhere by storm; however, many people are less familiar with the use of hammocks in camping. Here’s why you should consider getting rid of your tent and picking up a hammock.
Leave No Trace
Every year, our national parks and wilderness areas are battered by waves of hikers and campers. Hopefully all of us pack out our trash, leave nature where we find it, and refrain from polluting the landscape with unnecessary cairns; but there’s another form of destruction that any backpacker will instantly recognize: trampled vegetation leftover from a tent. Smashed grass, cracked twiggy underbrush, eroded soil, and exposed roots become the hallmark of any well-used spot. Instead, why not leave your campsite in as good of shape as you found it? Get a hammock. With just two points of contact with the natural world—each designed specifically with tree health in mind—you’ll be levitating your way down the trail, guilt-free.
Take a Seat
Have you ever searched for a decent spot to sit around camp after a long trek, only to find your options are soggy distant logs, sharp rocks, and muddy ground? Well, hammocks have got your back. Just rotate 90 degrees in any camping hammock, and you’ve instantly created a rocking chair. Give those sore feet a break as you swing carefree in the breeze and wait for your evening meal to cook.
Get Off the Ground
If you’ve ever spent a night in a tent, you know that the quality of your sleep is only as good as the quality of your campsite. Eroded roots and exposed rocks? Even the thickest sleeping pads are no match. Sloping ground? Count on an early morning pile-up at the low end of the tent. Torrential downpour? Let’s hope you didn’t set up in low ground and your tent’s floor doesn’t have any holes.
One of the greatest advantages of hammock camping is that the same, repeatable level of sleeping comfort can be achieved anywhere there are two trees spaced roughly the correct distance apart. Standing water and uneven soil are no concern. Even sharply sloped ground is a non-issue. When you’re camping out, there are enough logistical considerations already—finding a decent spot to lay your head shouldn’t be one of them.
Just What You Need
Some would say that hammock camping systems are lighter, less bulky, and less expensive than comparable tent camping systems. The truth is—it depends. It’s certainly not difficult to construct a very light weight hammock camping system, including hammock, bug net, tarp, and suspension, for a very reasonable price. Will it necessarily be less bulky and less costly than its tent equivalent? That’s harder to say.
What is certain, however, is that the hammock system will be more modular and customizable than the tent system, allowing for a trip gear loadout and nightly hammock setup specifically tailored to your expected conditions. Mosquitoes and flies not in season? Leave your bug net at home. No rain in the nightly forecast? Don’t bother setting up the tarp, and fall asleep to the beauty of stars poking through swaying branches overhead. Hammock camping gives you more options to create the experience you want.
The real reason most hammock campers I know have abandoned their tents is simple: comfort. By swapping out just one gear system for another, the entire experience of making camp shifts from the stoic determination of tent camping to the ultimate relaxation of hammock camping. Give hammock camping a shot, and my guess is you’ll never look back.